Tiger Beat on the Potomac (thanks Charlie!) email thingie does a little racing forum this morning for all the primaries in May:
TRUMP WORLD BRACES FOR TOUGH MAY — All eyes will be on Ohio on Tuesday, as Trump’s post-presidential sway over the GOP will face its first major test in the Buckeye State’s Senate primary. But while Trump endorsee J.D. VANCE appears to be sitting pretty, allies of the former president are bracing for a rocky month.
This morning, our colleague David Siders details the “four-week stretch of primaries” where “Trump-endorsed candidates are slogging through difficult races” or “running far behind.” Here’s a look at a few of them beyond Ohio, as well as the dates to watch:
May 10: Nebraska and West Virginia:
- “In Nebraska, CHARLES HERBSTER, with whom Trump campaigned on Sunday, is in a three-way toss-up after being accused of sexually assaulting eight women.” At the Sunday rally, Trump said that Herbster has “been badly maligned” in the gubernatorial race. … Further reading: “Trump makes closing pitch for Nebraska candidate accused of groping,” by WaPo’s Dave Weigel from Nebraska City
- “In West Virginia … Trump-backed Rep. ALEX MOONEY is running narrowly behind Rep. DAVID MCKINLEY in the race for a redrawn House seat.” … ICYMI: “Manchin endorses McKinley, denounces Mooney attack,” WV MetroNews
May 17: Idaho and Pennsylvania:
- “In Idaho, Gov. BRAD LITTLE is polling more than 30 percentage points ahead of his Trump-endorsed primary opponent.”
- In Pennsylvania: As our Holly Otterbein wrote over the weekend, despite winning Trump’s endorsement, MEHMET OZ hasn’t exactly caught fire, and remains in a statistical tie with DAVID MCCORMICK in the Keystone state’s GOP Senate primary.”
May 24: Georgia:
- “In Georgia, Gov. BRIAN KEMP — one of Trump’s most well-worn punching bags — may not only beat Trump’s endorsed candidate, former Sen. DAVID PERDUE, but do so by a wide enough margin to avoid a runoff.” Early voting begins today. … Further reading: “Kemp faces attacks from 4 rivals in last debate of GOP primary,” by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Shannon McCaffrey
The big picture:“The losses Trump is poised to take this month could still do significant damage to him — providing the first ballot-tested, post-presidential confirmation that Trump, while the most important animating factor in the GOP, is not the only force moving primary voters. … [I]n Pennsylvania, one longtime Republican Party official said, ‘What if his candidates don’t win? What does that say? I think it could be the beginning of the end of an era.’”
Thanks to a Cal education we compare and contrast Tiger Beat with our pals over at Electoral-Vote:
Most of the primaries aren’t terribly exciting (e.g., incumbents running in heavily gerrymandered districts), but here are 17 races that are worth watching.
- May 3: Ohio Senate (R): The races are starting with a big bang. One of the hottest is the Republican senatorial primary in Ohio, which is tomorrow (!). Donald Trump has endorsed former hillbilly James D. Vance because he is better at acting like a true sycophant than former state treasurer Josh Mandel, even though Mandel has been practicing much longer. Also running is millionaire banker Mike Gibbons and former GOP state chair Jane Timken. All of these are fighting to be the Trumpiest of all. Unfortunately for them, there is no mirror, mirror on the wall to answer that question definitively. There is also one candidate, state Sen. Matt Dolan, who noticed that Ohio is not in the old Confederacy and doesn’t have runoffs. It’s first past the post in the Buckeye State. He is running in the not-so-Trumpy lane. That means if, say, 76% of the Republican voters want a Trumpist and the four above-mentioned candidates split the vote evenly and each get 19% and he gets 20% and a few others get the crumbs, he is the nominee. If anyone other than Vance wins, Trump will take a huge hit and every Republican politician in the country will notice. If the only non-Trumpist wins, Trump will have a hard time explaining it. So by Wednesday, we will a bit better idea of how much actual power Trump really has.
- May 3: OH-11 (D): Nina Turner was the cochair of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT)’s presidential campaign. She is a very outspoken progressive and ran for the Democratic nomination in OH-11 special election last August for the seat vacated by Marcia Fudge (D), who joined Joe Biden’s cabinet. The district is D+32. That’s even bluer than NY-14, which is D+29 and sent Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to the House. Turner’s primary opponent was an unknown member of the Cuyahoga County council, Shontel Brown. Brown won easily. Turner didn’t like that result since she was convinced that in such a blue district, the voters were supposed to pick a fiery progressive like herself. So Turner is running again, only this time Brown is an incumbent and much better known. If Brown does better than her 6-point margin in the special election, a lot of moderate Democrats are going to be saying: “If a progressive can’t win among Democrats in a D+32 district, how are they ever going to win in an R+3 district?”
- May 10: Nebraska Governor (R): “Herbster” sounds like it ought describe someone who grows herbs, but it actually applies to a Republican running for governor of Nebraska, Charles Herbster. Eight women, including a state senator, have accused Herbster of groping them. His name also showed up when the “dating” site for married people, Ashley Madison, was hacked in 2015. From memory, we don’t recall if he was a Sugar Daddy or a Sugar Baby, but we didn’t have time to check which he was. Trump has endorsed Herbster. We don’t know if there is a causal connection here. Herbster has two opponents, state Sen. Brett Lindstrom and University of Nebraska regent Jim Pillen. As in Ohio a week earlier, it will be a test of Trump’s power. Nebraska being a very red state, the winner of the primary is the overwhelming favorite to be elected governor in November. Although if it’s Herbster, the sexual misconduct could possibly drag him down. The Cornhusker State has had a Democratic governor as recently as 1999 (Ben Nelson), so a Democratic victory isn’t impossible.
- May 17: Pennsylvania Senate (D): May 17 has lots of fun in store for political junkies. First, in one of the highest-profile Senate races in the country, both parties are having ferocious primaries. The Democrats have 2⅒ serious candidates: Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D-PA), a giant tattooed motorcycle-riding progressive who comes from a working-class background, Rep. Conor Lamb (D-PA), who is a much more formal fellow who has repeatedly won in a red district and whose grandfather was once majority leader of the state Senate, and Malcolm Kenyatta (the ⅒), a Black gay progressive. We counted him for ⅒ because there is no HTML code for 1/100. Fetterman is leading in the polls and in the fundraising, but either he or Lamb would be a formidable candidate in November. Fetterman would energize both progressives and moderates but wouldn’t get a lot of Republican votes. Lamb would get nose-holding progressives, moderates, and some Republican votes. Kenyatta has no chance whatsoever of getting the nomination; his only possible role will be to maybe play spoiler and help Lamb if it’s close.
- May 17: Pennsylvania Senate (R): The battle between Fetterman and Lamb is child’s play compared to the battle on the Republican side. New Jersey resident and television quack Mehmet Oz is running ads violently attacking Connecticut resident and hedge fund manager David McCormick, who is responding in kind. Trump has endorsed Oz and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is doing everything he can to help McCormick because he can easily envision Fetterman burying Oz. One could view this race as a proxy fight between Trump and McConnell (or maybe between whether New Jersey or Connecticut is more popular in Pennsylvania). As in Ohio and Nebraska, this is yet another test of Trump’s power, especially in races where McConnell is all in for someone other than Trump’s pick.
- May 17: North Carolina Senate (R): Here we have another race where Trump has stuck his neck out. He has endorsed Rep. Ted Budd (R-NC), who is running against former governor Pat “Bathroom Bill” McCrory and former U.S. representative Mark Walker. There are also 11 barely known other candidates in the race. As a former governor, McCrory has the most name recognition of anyone in the race. But he signed the aforementioned bathroom bill, which requires people using public restrooms to use the one corresponding to the sex on their birth certificate. Among Republican voters, this is probably a feature, not a bug. Among general-election voters it is more of a bug and could hurt McCrory in November if he gets the nomination. After all, it played a big role in his defeat by now-Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) when running for reelection as governor in 2016. The Democratic nomination is a done deal. Former state Supreme Court Justice Cheri Beasley has it nailed down.
- May 17: NC-01 (D): Rep. George Butterfield (D-NC) is retiring from this D+17 district. Former state senator Erica Smith dropped out of the U.S. Senate race and sees this House seat as a consolation prize. She is Black and very progressive. Donald Davis, who is Black but more moderate, is also running. Butterfield is backing Davis.
- May 17: NC-04 (D): This district, home to Durham and Chapel Hill, is an open seat due to the retirement of Rep. David Price (D-NC). It is D+17. The main contenders are state Sen. Valerie Foushee, former “American Idol” star Clay Aiken, and Durham County Commissioner Nida Allam. Foushee has an eclectic bunch of supporters, including Emily’s List, AIPAC, and a crypto billionaire pouring money into her campaign. And when AIPAC spent $800,000 supporting Foushee, the progressive caucus of the North Carolina Democratic Party withdrew its support for her. Why did AIPAC get involved in the first place? Allam, who was born in Canada but is of South Asian heritage, is an observant Muslim. She sent out a tweet in 2018 complaining about Israeli influence in U.S. politics, and AIPAC sees that as antisemitic. Foushee is a Black member of the state House and a former police officer. To some extent, this race, will be a test of how much of a difference big money makes in a race between two women of color and how badly claims of antisemitism play in a heavily Black district.
- May 17: NC-11 (R): Hardly a day goes by when we don’t write something about Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R-NC). He’s become our favorite nutter. We have mentioned him 104 times this year, compared to 57 times for Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL), 41 times for Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA), and only 27 times for poor Lauren Boebert (R-CO). Boebert needs to get a new press agent or stunt coordinator. Today’s installment of the Cawthorn Saga might be about the end of the line for him. He has really ticked off Sen. Thom Tillis (R-NC), who is tired of a guy who tries to smuggle guns on planes, drives with a revoked license, calls Volodymyr Zelenskyy a “thug,” and praises Hitler. Tillis is actively supporting state Sen. Chuck Edwards (R) in an attempt to get rid of Cawthorn, who has (naturally) been endorsed by Trump. As in some other races, this will be a test of Trump’s power to help an unusually toxic candidate.
- May 17: OR-05 (D): We have written a lot about Donald Trump’s endorsements, now a Joe Biden endorsement will get tested. Biden has endorsed one of the most conservative Democrats in Congress, Rep. Kurt Schrader (D-OR), whose district used to have a PVI of EVEN. Schrader compared the 2021 impeachment of Trump to a “lynching.” This earned him a challenge from progressive attorney Jamie McLeod-Skinner, who has called Schrader the House’s own Joe Manchin. This is not Hillary vs. Bernie, Part 197 because Schrader is far more conservative than Hillary Clinton, but Oregon is a progressive state, so McLeod-Skinner might have a chance.
- May 24: Georgia Senate (R): This is another one of those Trump vs. The Establishment races. Trump has endorsed football player and spousal abuser Herschel Walker, who is Black. McConnell is supporting Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black, who is white. Democrats are hoping (maybe even, in some extreme cases, praying) for Walker to win the GOP nomination because their oppo team has buckets… no, make that barrels… no, make that boatloads of material to take him down with. Walker is much better known than Black, so Trump might just pull this one off. Of course, if Walker goes on to lose the general election to Sen. Raphael Warnock (D-GA), who is a prolific fundraiser and has already won statewide, a lot of Republicans will blame Trump for blowing a winnable race.
- May 24: Georgia Governor (R): Georgia has a lot of biggies on May 24, but this is the biggest biggie. Trump has gone all in on defeating the incumbent governor, Brian Kemp, because he didn’t throw the 2020 election to Trump. Trump talked former senator David Purdue into running against Kemp, although Purdue wasn’t really interested. It shows. Kemp has a commanding lead in the polls and in money. If Kemp crushes Purdue, all the news the next day is about how Trump has been reduced to a paper bulldog. If Kemp gets the nomination, the $64,000 question will be what Trump does in the general election. Will he eat a heaping portion of crow and support Kemp or continue to try to defeat Kemp by supporting Stacey Abrams? If Abrams gets Trump’s endorsement, that may be the ultimate illustration of the old chestnut that politics makes strange bedfellows. Of course, there is also a chance that if Trump endorses Abrams, she will reject the endorsement and say she wants nothing to do with him.
- May 24: Georgia Secretary of State (R): Another Georgia official Trump hates, hates, hates is Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger. So Trump is supporting Rep. Jody Hice, who has promised that he will make sure Trump wins any future elections in Georgia, no matter what the silly voters want. Victories by Kemp and Raffensperger would really take Trump down several pegs, even if Walker wins the Senate nomination. For Trump, destroying your enemies is far more important than helping your friends, and Kemp and Raffensperger are among his top enemies. Gary Black isn’t Trump’s enemy; the former president just prefers Herschel Walker, so that race isn’t for blood like the other two are.
- May 24: Georgia Secretary of State (D): The Democrats are fielding a serious candidate for secretary of state in Georgia, state Rep. Bee Nguyen, the first Asian-American Democrat elected in Georgia. She is a star among progressives for her attacks on Trump and his conspiracy theories. But she has five other opponents to contend with. If nobody gets 50% + 1, Georgia has runoffs, as you almost certainly know.
- May 24: GA-07 (D): When the Republican-controlled state legislature gerrymandered the House districts, they conveniently put two incumbent Democrats, Lucy McBath and Carolyn Bourdeaux, in the same district. The two will fight it out on May 24. McBath, who is Black, got into politics after her son was murdered in 2012. She got her start as an anti-gun activist. In 2018, she ran for Newt Gingrich’s old seat and defeated Karen Handel. She won a rematch in 2020. Bourdeaux, who is white, is a moderate. She was formerly a professor at Georgia State University. McBath is running largely on her platform while Bourdeaux is running more on her ties to Gwinnett county, where the district is largely located. In any event, one of the two incumbents will lose in the primary and the other could lose in the general election.
- May 24: Alabama Senate (R): In the Alabama Senate race, Trump initially endorsed Rep. Mo Brooks (R-AL), who is Trumpy as hell. But he wasn’t doing so well in the race, so Trump pulled the endorsement. He didn’t endorse anyone else afterwards. The big question here is whether the endorsement still matters and can help Brooks over the finish line. Also in the race are the chief of staff of retiring Sen. Richard Shelby (R-AL), Katie Britt, and businessman Mike Durant. The popular Shelby is doing everything he can for his former staffer but Durant is wealthy and is putting a lot of his own money into the race.
- May 24: TX-28 runoff (D): Progressive lawyer Jessica Cisneros is challenging moderate Rep. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) in this fairly blue district. In the March 1 primary, Cuellar beat her by only 2 points, but neither one got 50%, forcing this runoff. This race is about how to win back socially conservative Latinos along the southern Texas border. Cuellar is a business friendly opponent of abortion rights. Cisneros is far to the left of him on everything. Party leaders, including House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-MD) and Jim Clyburn (D-SC). support the incumbent Cuellar. Bernie Sanders supports Cisneros.
There you have it. And that’s only for May. We still have June, with 18 states holding primaries, possibly some postponed to July, 14 in August, and at least 4 in September. (V)
If you happen to live in any of these places (and we have our doubts that the fly-over states actually exist except in the fever dreams of NYTimes reporters), give us a report from on the ground in the comments.
Ohio’s primary TOMORROW particularly looks lit.